Football is one of the most high-contact of all “contact sports.” On nearly every play, the crunch of players colliding with great force can be heard. Not surprisingly, football players at all levels of competition experience a variety of injuries, ranging from minor, to moderate, to severe, but some injuries are more common than others.
Whether they play football for a school team or a professional franchise, players should be aware of these injuries and how they occur, so they can more easily distinguish between injuries and common aches and pains. Here are the five football-related injuries that are most likely to leave football players sidelined as they battle for glory on the gridiron.
Football helmets are designed to help prevent concussions, but some hits are so impactful that they power past the padded plastic with concussive force. Depending on its severity, a concussion could leave a player feeling slightly dazed or unsteady, or it could knock them unconscious on the playing field. A player that shows signs of concussion should exit the game and seek the advice of a doctor before returning to action.
The speed at which football players collide can literally break bones. The most common sites of fracture are the limbs and extremities, particularly legs, wrists, and fingers. Fractures have a range of severity, but all fractures end up causing pain that cannot be ignored. If you experience debilitating pain and/or loss of function in the affected area, using an imaging test to check for a fracture is standard. It may even help prevent a more serious fracture later.
- Ankle Sprains
While generally not as serious as a broken ankle, a sprained ankle can still be debilitating. A serious sprain that involves stretched and torn ligaments cannot be “walked off.” Rather, it hobbles a player, making it impossible to run full speed or make sharp lateral movements. On the bright side, treating some sprains is as simple as wearing an ankle brace that lets you play while you heal. Because braces differ by ankle injury, diagnosis should come first.
- Turf Toe
This often-seen injury is caused by a player jumping and running on hard surfaces, such as artificial football turf. The condition causes pain in the base of the big toe due to joint injury and stretched or torn tissue. Adequate shoe support is essential for preventing the condition. For those who are afflicted, keeping the affected foot elevated in a resting position may be recommended. In less serious cases, wearing a toe strap while playing may be an option.
- Torn ACL
The most feared knee injury in professional sports, a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) occurs when the ligament completely tears apart. Pain and knee instability come quickly, and swelling is usually apparent in under three hours. For footballers who hope to compete at a high level following an ACL tear, ACL reconstruction surgery is the standard treatment. Neuromuscular training and core strengthening are used to help prevent ACL tears.
It is impossible for football gear to protect players from every injury, while still giving them the agility and mobility that they need to play the game. When the rigid protective wear reveals a chink in its armor, there are many times when it results in one of the serious injuries above.
Armed with this knowledge, players can better interpret their condition on the field and know when it is time to alert coaches that injury should be ruled out before another down is played. For more information about football injuries, speak with a sports doctor or an athletic trainer.
Author Bio: Chris Scalise is a writer and content strategist from Los Angeles, who covers developments in health, wellness, and science for companies like SportsBraces.com. In addition, he frequently writes about emerging trends in the tech sector.